The MIT Year 2000 team has two pieces of advice for the community as Y2K approaches:
Take it seriously. And don't panic.
"There is credible evidence about the potential for significant problems, so Y2K represents a risk that must be taken seriously," consultant Gayle C. Willman told the monthly Y2K Partners information meeting at MIT on August 18. "Good work is being done to get MIT ready for the year 2000, and representatives of MIT's departments, labs and centers are encouraged to work toward an uneventful year 2000 transition."
The Department of Facilities has been preparing buildings, elevators, utilities, and heating/ventilation/air conditioning systems to assure a smooth transition to the millennium. "We haven't found any show-stoppers," said Joseph F. Gifun, manager for facility renewal.
The MIT Card is an example of a system being verified for Y2K compliance with no anticipated problems, Ms. Willman said. Access to buildings and parking lots with the MIT Card has been verified as Y2K compliant, while other MIT Card uses (library borrowing and meal card tracking) are in the process of being verified as well.
Ms. Willman also urged all departments to "IART" -- inventory, assess, remediate and test -- items such as printers, copying machines and other equipment used frequently. "Determine what is important to your work," she said. "Prioritize the list and assess the Y2K vulnerability of each item."
Michael S. Drooker, senior consultant on the Year 2000 Team, reported that Tava Technologies had inspected more than 6,000 devices with embedded systems throughout the campus to assess how many needed remediation. Embedded chips control, monitor or assist the operation of equipment or machinery, including laboratory devices. "Embedded" reflects the fact that they are an integral part of the system, even though in many cases their presence is far from obvious to the casual observer.
"Reports are being sent to administrative officers," said Mr. Drooker. "About half the devices inspected are compliant, some are noncompliant and some are suspect. The departments, laboratories and centers have to determine whether noncompliance or suspect status poses a risk to their operations."
Rocklyn E. Clarke, head of the team, urged all departments to file enterprise system reports that indicate whether noncompliant systems have been or should be changed. Enterprise systems are defined as those that are used broadly by the MIT community or have a broad scope even though they belong to a specific department.
Mr. Clarke noted that noncompliant systems that departments consider noncritical should be marked as done in the reports if the department has decided that changes are not called for.
For additional information, see http://web.mit.edu/mity2k/ or contact the Y2K Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 25, 1999.